In studying for a recent reiki training for yoga teachers I found an interesting correlation between reiki and yoga that I would like to share with you. I have taught reiki as part of a teaching program for a number of years. Typically I teach it as a supplement to the yoga as almost an extra thing that the teachers have to add to their classes, but this year I taught yogic principles along with the reiki principles and saw how well they relate. I wasn’t teaching this year as a supplement to the yoga training but how reiki training is yogic in itself.
The eight limbs of yoga are Yamas, Niyamas, Asanas, Pranayama, Prathahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. They have much in common to the system of reiki in that both are leading the practitioner to the same place.
The first way that reiki is yogic is with the precepts. The precepts are pointing to no duality or the atman. The Atman is the true self and is often associated with brahman. This is a state of oneness which is the state that we are in when we are reiki. The precepts point us to that state of Atman by bringing us to that state naturally. When we are not angry, not worried, have integrity including being grateful, do our work honestly, and have compassion to our self and others we are naturally in a state of Atman. In yoga we have the Yamas and Niyamas. The Yamas and Niyamas are the beginning of the yogic path as the principles are the beginning of the reiki path. The Yamas are how we should be in society 1. Ahimsa or non-violence 2. Satya or truthfulness 3. Asteya or non-stealing, 4. Bramacharya or self-restraint as it pertains to sexuality and other indulgences. 5. Aparigraha: Non hoarding or greediness. It is very easy to see how the precepts are saying basically the same thing. Just for today do not anger is a way of not creating violence, anger breeds violence. When I live with integrity and I am practicing Satya, or truthfulness. When I have compassion for myself and others I am practicing both Non-stealing and self-restraint. How can I steal from others or use someone sexually, or over indulgence on anything if I have compassion for myself or others? It is impossible. Then of course non hoarding is a form of dong an honest day’s work. If that is all I am wanting I want no more.
The Niyamas are 1. Sauca or cleanliness 2. Santosha: Contentment 3. Tapas or self-discipline, 4. Swadhyaya or self-study 5. Iswarpanidhana: or surrendering to the supreme Self or God. The Niyamas relate to the compassion to one self and having integrity or be true to oneself. I see the Niyamas as a guide to show me how to better have compassion to myself because they are pointing to the true self, and having integrity is part of self-study, to be true to myself I need to study within and surrender to my higher self.
The precepts are a simplified for of the Yamas, and Niyamas. Having less is sometimes more in that if we just weigh our actions with the precepts we are living by the Yamas and Niyamas. However on the other side it is good that we have a how to live the precepts by practicing the Yamas and Niyamas. Not one is better just two sides of the same coin. Both Pointing to the same place.
What I really found interesting and important is the way that we move energy while doing reiki is in the Vayus. In yoga Ki is called Prana it is of course both are energy and energy is energy no matter what you call it. There are many similarities and subtle differences that I would like to discuss. Another of the limbs of yoga is pranayama or breathing techniques to move Prana, By Ayurvedic thought, which the medical side is and really the main aspect of the system of yoga, there is five types of Prana or Vayus. Vayu means wind.
The five Vayus are Prana Vayu, Apana Vayu, Samana Vayu, Udana Vayu, and Vyana Vayu. Prana or energy is said to ride the breath as a rider rides a horse. How we steer the horse determines the destination and the quality of the ride we have. When we do reiki we are intentionally moving energy in and through the three diamonds. Anytime we are dealing with the breath we are invoking mainly the air element. The breath is our connection between our interior and the larger universal energies. That is not say that we are channeling reiki from someplace else but we feed the light within by the universal ki or prana.
The first Yayu is Prana Vayu. While all energy is called prana the Prana Vayu is speaking to the winds that move forward or gong inward this vayu is important for reikii as it is sad to govern the rest of the pranas and is in the third eye or heaven area, SHK. Some have said it sits in the heart, or HZSN, so anytime we are moving energy from the heart to the third eye we are using prana vayu. SHK is in the third eye area and is said to be where we connect with heaven energy or that realm that we cannot perceive with our normal senses. In yoga this is where Shiva resides and in yoga we are opening up our channels or nadis to allow for Shakti which resides in the CKR or hara area to come up and merge with Shiva. Shiva is said to be the male energy or unmanifest where Shakti is the female energy more creative in nature and said to be a snake curled up three times below the first chakra or under the hara. When Shakti energy is awaken it moves up the spine around the chakras to finally meet up with Shiva who awaits in perfect stillness in the heaven realm. When these two meet that is when there is union and non-duality because the male/female energies have become one. The doing, creative energy of the female and the non-doing contemplative male energy merge into oneness. In reiki this is when we are in DKM. In DKM the three become one, the earth energy is connected with the heaven energy and the heart energy. All are emerged as one.
In the Indian yoga philosophy there are chakras. Chakras are portals that allow energy to come in and go out. Thousands of chakras in our body but seven main chakras. We have chakras in our hands which is why we feel energy coming out of our hands. In reiki there are three diamonds. The three diamonds are not chakras but often get confused with chakras because of where they are. Chakras are where nadis intersect. The seven major chakras run up the spine and govern both our bodies and our physiological makeup. The three diamonds are different realms of existence that are represented in different areas of the body which also where the chakras are located. Often new and modern reiki practitioners get these things confused. The three diamonds are Earth energy or CKR located in the hara where the second and third chakras are. The similarities are that these chakras are dealing with earthly issues, safety, sex, and ego, the difference is that earth energy is dealing with everything of earthly existence including the sky, moon, mountains, and things we can feel, see, and touch. The second diamond or SHK is in the third eye or where the sixth chakra is located. This is the heaven energy, intuition, visualization, imagination, etc. which is real similar to the sixth chakra. This is where we see the bigger picture from a heaven perspective. The third diamond or HZSN is the heart diamond or where the fourth chakra is. This area is similar in that both deal with relationships, but in reiki this is an area that there is oneness. This is diamond bridges the earth and heaven energies together. The confusion is due to the location and some similarities to where some think that the diamonds are chakras where it is really two entirely different things that we are talking about. The chakras govern our bodies and the three diamonds are realms of existence. Again not that one is better they are just different. Reiki can be used to balance the chakras because the chakras are part of the body. The chakras can strengthen the different realms of existence by being in harmony in these areas.
Apana Vayu means to move away. This vayu is downward moving and governs elimination. This Vayu has an earth quality about it and relates to CKR or hara area. In reiki we are told to bring light in and down into our hara, to do that we are using Apana Vayu.
Samana Vayu moves from the outside or periphery to the center. This aids in digestion as it assimilates toward the middle. As we bring light into the hara we are bringing the energy into a central point and so we use Samana Vayu to condense the energy.
Udana Vayu is an upward movement of energy. It is the energy that goes up toward the head and neck area. To move energy from our hara to our hands we need Udana Vayu. It also connects the earth energy with the heart and heaven energies. Bringing the ki up from the hara to nurture the rest of the body.
Vyana Vayu is outward moving air which goes from the center outward. This wind circulates our energy from the hara outward filling each cell with light from the concentrated area of the hara. We use this in JOSHIN KOKYU HO. We breathe in the light into the hara on an inhale and as we exhale we move the energy outward as if blowing up a balloon. This action is Vyana Vayu. The movement from the center outward in a circular movement.
So far we have talked about how reiki relates to three of the eight limbs. I will touch briefly on the other limbs of yoga and practice of reiki. Asana is what we typically think of when we think of yoga, the yoga poses. The reason we do asana is to better come inside and touch upon the true self or Atman. Asana was originally used only as a physical way of opening up the meridians or energy channels so that Prana could flow and feed the body, allowing for higher states of consciences. In reiki we have many techniques that do the same thing, some of them have a yoga or Thai-chi feel to them, they are not to get a better shape in the body but to unblock the energy channels to allow us to connect with our true self’s or to be reiki.
Prathahara is the bringing in the senses. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna tells Arjuna “Just as a tortoise withdraws its limbs, so when a man withdraws his senses from the sense objects, His wisdom becomes steady.” Prathahara is tuning out the outside world and tuning into our true nature. We listen and have intuition guided by our true nature. While giving reiki we are doing prathahara as we try to not be distracted by outside influences, when we are doing the precepts many of the outside conditions are already taken care of but as we are giving reiki, we need to be in the present moment and not looking around and or listening to the music that may or may not be playing, we bring our senses inward so that we can connect to the great bright light that we are.
Dharana is the concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness. This is a concentration on a single point. This concentration steadies the mind by focusing on an object in yoga, and it is used in order to keep the mind, senses, intellect and ego from fluctuating so that one can focus on the divine. In reiki we use Dharana in many ways but one way would be to concentrate on the mantra or symbols as a way of having steading the fluctuations of the mind while giving reiki. We use the mantra’s and symbols as a focal point not as tools but rather something of an anchor and as a remembrance of our true nature.
Dhyana is meditation. As used in yoga we are meditating on the divine and the universal spirit. Dhyana is used to further unify ourselves with our true nature or Atman. Dhyana is a higher form of Dharana in that what is being concentrated on and the one concentrated become one. There is no duality and there is a sense of oneness with all. The highest form of Dhyana is Jhana when there is only oneness. In reiki there are numerous meditations that are all pointing to this same state, the state of being one with universal ki or the great bright light. Higher realms of reiki there is no practitioner or reiki, there just is a knowing of our true nature and the oneness with all and everything.
Samadhi is union with the Divine. Its meaning is bring together and merge into one. Now the journey is complete and there is oneness with our true nature. We and Atman are one, there is no more duality at all but only bliss to experience. We achieve Samadhi and there are no more questions, the self has become the no self as talked about in Zen Buddhism. I have studied yoga and Zen Buddhism for a number of years and this was always promised, if you sit long enough if you work hard enough in asana practice someday you may get a glimpse of Samadhi. I have never come closer to Samadhi than doing reiki. In Reiki; Samadhi is not some unachievable goal but common place where we remember who we are and be the great bright light. Then there is no duality, then there is no me, there is no you there is only the great bright light in its simplicity always being right here. I have found in reiki all the promises given by all the other spiritual paths and only by being, not by doing anything. However we have the system of reiki, the great bright light it is not something we have to chase but surrender to our own true being.
These are the way I see reiki as being yoga and yoga being reiki. Not even are they two paths going to the same place, just different expressions of the same path. All spiritual paths are telling us the same thing that we are the great bright light, it just seems with some traditions the path is too complicated and the truth gets lost.
Jeff Emerson is a Shinpiden graduate of the International House of Reiki. You can find him at Reiki Ease.